Has Age Affected Your Driving?
For almost everyone, driving is an essential part of life. The ability to go where you want, when you want to, is important, but perhaps even more so is the feeling of independence that it creates. As long as we feel we can function independently, we are strong and confident. Take away this feeling of independence, and we feel weakened and insecure because we are dependent on others to take us where we want or need to go. Buses, taxis, and subways may not be workable alternatives because of mobility or other age-related problems, and the passenger does not feel he’s in control he when he’s not driving. This is something that many seniors feel when they stop driving.
While there is no defined age at which a person must stop driving, there is no denying that increasing years and health issues affect a person’s ability to drive. The eyesight, strength, and reflexes of an 80 years old are not the same as when he/she was 18. Going to the DMV and getting a driving license renewed does not automatically mean that an elderly person is able to drive safely. Medical tests and checkups are not 100% accurate and often there are health issues that they do not detect that could make driving dangerous.
In addition to a normal checkup, if you notice any of these signs of driving issues, you should discuss them with a health care professional who will be able to advise you if you should continue to drive:
- Increased frequency of close calls, fender benders and scrapes against other cars or stationary objects.
- An increased volume of traffic tickets or citations
- Difficulty maintaining focus on traffic
- Difficulty in accelerating or braking smoothly
- Difficulty in viewing distant objects which was not an issue earlier
- Problems in hearing sirens, car horns, etc.
- Problems in remembering frequently traveled routes
- Increasing anger and irritation when driving in traffic
- Confusion in using the various controls – not just brakes and accelerator but turn signals, lights and so on.
Independence With Driving
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If you, or a loved one, are no longer able to drive, the world does not come to an end. For those with health or age-related issues, there is another way to remain mobile and independent. Even if health does permit the comfortable use of public transport, it may not be available when you want it to take you to where you need to go. A far more convenient, safe and comfortable option is to use Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT). NEMT is not an ambulance service so there are none of the negative connotations of ambulance travel. NEMT companies provide specially equipped vans to transport people with health, mobility problems or physical conditions caused by advancing years thus providing them a way of maintaining their mobility independence. A professional NEMT company
will have specially trained drivers and offer doorstep pick up and drop, event standby and other services that will replace the need to drive. Whether it is to meet all local travel requirements or only on those days when a person does not feel physically or mentally up to driving, NEMT is the right way for those who are physically unable to drive to maintain their mobility independence.